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Online hacker Mark di Stefano and the Financial Times part company

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Australian left wing so-called journalist who criticised Murdoch for phone hacking, caught out hacking

Ever since Google shut this site down during the week of GILLARD's appointment as Chair of the Clinton-linked Global Partnership for Education I've had an innate distrust of electronic communications.

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A Financial Times reporter listened in on confidential and sensitive video calls at rival news organisations as staff were told about salary cuts and furloughs by editors and senior managers, an investigation by The Independent has established.

Mark Di Stefano, who has been suspended by the FT pending an investigation into the incident, accessed private Zoom meetings held by The Independent and The Evening Standard as journalists learnt how measures introduced because of the coronavirus pandemic would affect them.

Log files show an account registered to Di Stefano’s email address joined the private video call for The Independent staff on Thursday for 16 seconds. The caller’s video was disabled, but journalists saw his name flash briefly on screen before he left the meeting.

Five minutes later, a separate account joined the call, this time unnamed. Again, video was switched off so that only a black square was displayed among the screens showing up to 100 people who had been invited to attend. The anonymous user account, which remained in the meeting until the end, was later shown to be linked to the mobile phone used by the same Financial Times reporter.

Di Stefano posted the news on Twitter while The Independent’s staff were still being told details of, and reasons behind, salary cuts and furloughs, and before the editor, Christian Broughton, and senior management at the title had contacted other journalists who could not join the video call, including those based in the US.

Shortly afterwards, the Financial Times published a report by Di Stefano, including confidential details about the company’s advertising downturn and quoting chief executive Zach Leonard. The article stated that “people on the call” were the source of the story.

The investigation by The Independent also shows that the account linked to Di Stefano’s mobile phone gained access to an Evening Standard video call made by editor George Osborne, announcing large-scale furloughs and salary cuts to staff on 1 April.